chopping down pine treeAP Photo/Pat Sullivan

A homeowner has been fined an astonishing £125,000 for chopping down a tree in his neighbour's garden (not the one pictured). The tree was blocking the view from his new hot tub and sun deck, and while he was away on his honeymoon, the tree mysteriously fell down - with a perfectly chainsawed base.

The judge didn't take kindly to the reckless disregard for his neighbours, and issued a huge fine. It goes to show how dangerous neighbour disputes can be.


Chopped down

We all know how easy it is to get a bit obsessed with the neighbour who never mows the lawn, or leaves their dog out, or who has planted the world's largest tree between us and the view.
However, Neil Davey, a 51 year old auctioneer from Poole In Dorset, has discovered that taking the law into your own hands can be disastrous. He was found guilty of arranging for someone to chop down his neighbour's tree, and ordered to pay a total of £125,000.

The sum included £50,000 to cover the increase in value of his own property from removing the tree and a fine of £75,000. He also had to pay £14,500 costs to Poole Council.

The tree in question had a protection order, so could not be tackled. It was a 40 foot pine, and stood between Davey and the view of Poole Harbour.

At night

Davey was in Paris at the time on his honeymoon. The court heard that he arranged for an old friend and tree surgeon Thomas McGuire, to sneak into his neighbour's garden at night and chop the tree down. McGuire was also fined £5,515.

The tree owner was convinced this was no accident by the perfect chainsawed cut through the tree, and the trail of flattened grass leading to Davey's garden.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Judge said: "This was a pre-meditated matter, not something that occurred on the spur of the moment. It is clear you, Neil Davey, were the main mover behind it. What you orchestrated demonstrated a remarkable arrogance."

The tree will apparently be replaced by one of the same species.

What can you do?

Clearly this was a reckless act, which has been punished by the courts. It's easy to see how a large tree smack bang in the middle of the view can be frustrating. However, there are better ways of dealing with this.

Citizen's Advice say it faces a number of enquiries about this kind of thing, and as a result they have an advice guide which covers all sorts of neighbour disputes.

It says that when it comes to trees, there are a number of rules to follow: "The owner of a tree has a legal obligation to take due care that it does not damage a neighbour's property, including a garden as well as a driveway with for example, overgrown roots or branches. You should ask your neighbour if he or she is prepared to cut the tree back. You are entitled to cut back roots and branches that overhang onto your property, but it may be useful to discuss the problem before you do any trimming back."

"When you have a problem of daylight being taken away from your property by a neighbour's tree it may be more difficult to solve because you do not have the right to take any height off your neighbour's tree. If you have lost daylight to your property, or views you previously enjoyed, you should try to negotiate with your neighbour to reduce the height of the tree. If the neighbour refuses you could take legal action but discuss this with a solicitor because it could be very expensive."

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